DEARBORN, MI (Associated Press)-Ford Motor Co. says it will add more than 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years, including 750 engineers with expertise in batteries and other advanced technology, as it begins producing several new vehicles.

The company plans to hire 4,000 manufacturing workers this year. Almost half those workers will be at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky that will make the new Ford Escape starting late this year. It expects to add at least 2,500 new manufacturing jobs in 2012.

The 750 engineers that Ford plans to hire will work on hybrid and electric vehicles.

The company said it is beginning a recruiting effort this week in Detroit and either other cities, including San Jose, CA, and Raleigh and Durham, NC.

Ford introduced three future electric and hybrid vehicles Monday at the Detroit auto show, including an electric version of the Ford Focus which will go on sale in the United States later this year and hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the C-Max minivan which will go on sale in 2012.

The company also said it plans to hire 6,500 U.S. manufacturing workers over the next two years as it ramps up production of new vehicles. Ford had previously announced some of the new hires, including the 1,800 workers being hired to make the new Ford Escape at Kentucky’s Louisville Assembly Plant starting late this year. Some of the workers will be new to Ford, although some will be come from other U.S. plants where Ford has laid off workers.

It was not clear whether any of the newly announced jobs would be at the Chicago assembly plant. After an announcement last summer, Ford added a second shift at the Torrence Avenue plant, adding 1,200 workers-about 400 to 600 of them new-to produce the 2011 Ford Explorer SUV.

Under a 2007 contract, new hires will make around $14, or half the wages of veteran workers, which will mean significant savings for the company.